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Prototype of leading teams in remote setup (WFH and virtual meetings)

What's your prototype for leading teams in this remote set up?

How did you make your Scrum team deliver and stay focused?

What tools that comes into your mind when engaging people in the virtual world?

 

Today the world is running on 2 words, “success” and “money”. They proliferated to such an extent that, in order to sustain in the market place, and to address this new challenge of remote working, organizations started using “IoT”, "NLP", "ML" to gather data, process and derive meaningful and structured data patterns. These are the data points that holds the key to make an effective decision and drive meaningful conversations, planning, setting up vision and goals.


One such approach is the hot topic in the cosmopolitan world-“leading teams towards hyper productive in remote set up” environment. The facilitator/ servant-leader/ manager/ leader who is in people managing role is on a constant run to learn, practice, implement and virtually “lead” teams:

  • To stay relevant, transparent and attentive.
  • Build rapport with colleagues
  • Identify the tools that improves productivity
  • Be industry ready with domain certifications, upskilling and retrospection.

 

In this article, I’m unfolding my approach (prototype) as a servant-leader, facilitator in one of my ex-projects during this pandemic.

 

Lead a remote team-Subash.png


I started with the below note:

  • What’s the purpose?
  • What’s the current scenario and asked for?
  • What are the resources available and number of staff?
  • Who are the decision makers?
  • How did others able to address this situation and how will I address?
  • What kind of metrics comes into handy?

I made my notes that reflected: Understanding the problem>> experimenting the solutions/ ideas >> Observe the result(s)>> again experiment/try new solutions. In a nutshell, design thinking approach can also come to the forte.

Outcome of the initial survey:
I conducted a survey with my Scrum team members to understand the best and worst scenario’s that’s effecting their work. Listed are the points observed:

  • Planning their work
  • Setting boundaries between work time and family time
  • Scheduling calls
  • Being pushed to work 24/7 and 365 days effecting the employee morale, health and disturbances in family.
  • Poor network connectivity and home set up to carry on office work.
  • Lack of remote tools or unaware of the tools that makes them productive and easy to present to management.
  • Less commute to work place saving the travelling time.
  • Able to work from home and be available for family members.
  • Missing office environment and friends

Now that, I understood their real time views and situation, my job became easy to explore the drivers in keeping them motivated, agreeable and enabled. Remember, we are a Scrum team with every person having accountability, shared vision, trust, commitment (basically I’m referring to Scrum values).


My decisions are always based on the “purpose”. My purpose, “how to lead the team and make them hyper productive” lead me to unfold some tools to meet the shared goal.

1. Establishing working agreements: Since we are exploring and getting used to remote working, the working agreements are a definite must before the active Sprint starts. Listed few are captured in confluence and agreed upon:

  • Respect the time of the colleague.
  • Be available to video calls within the agreed work time and minimal background distractions.
  • EOB update the time tracking.
  • Ensure the laptop updates are turned on a scheduled outside office hours.
  • Capture the progress of the work in Jira comments and tag the relevant people.
  • Attend daily Scrum calls and raise the impediments as and when they arise.
  • Mandatorily participate in employee well-being and engagement fun activities.

2. Virtual collaboration tools: Zoom, Go-to meetings, Google meet as per the management decision and ease of use by team members voting. These platforms enabled members see, greet, send thumbs up for the good job done.


3. Transparency and visibility: We initially tried “Trello”, “Google Jam board” and a friend recommended tool "Sococo". But these tools took time for the team to explore which slightly delayed our Sprint goal. So, we completely relied on “Atlassian Confluence” for product roadmap, requirements drafting, Sprint planning with estimations (story points), draw the wireframes/ mock up’s through market place plugins, using spaces for team and management activities, blogs for team development activities, releases, code views, preparing client personas etc.


4. Managing work through Jira tickets: Basically, all the projects these days are running on Atlassian Jira tool which enables teams to track their work progress (Kanban board), log their efforts, develop and maintain the product backlogs, prioritization and automation with few clicks and JQL/ filters, market place plugins, Sprint reports that are shared to the relevant stakeholders.


5. Confining the meeting hours:

  • We used to discuss what’s relevant to the team or between people to remove impediments and get into common agreement.
  • Discuss the best time where all team members distributed geographically can join.
  • Setting up agenda, context, time, required people for next meeting.​​​​​​​

6. 30-60-90: Planning your work in progress (WIP), feature development using the Kanban’s 30-60-90 roadmap.


7. Team rewards, engagement and dial your helping shoulder:

  • Being stressed up with constant work and new working methods, I made it a mandate to dial that helping shoulder “(best buddies in the organization)" to discuss and come up with a plan that ease the employee stress and make them feel belonging and at good hands.
  • Use visual cues/ cards/ signs that shows appreciation (be sure to find some in Amazon or DIY). Strictly, adhere to the corporate sexual harassment policy when using the visual signs.

While, the above seems more normal and obvious across projects, programs and organizations, we are constantly on trial-and-error mode. End of the day, what matters is the Scrum team members comfortable working environment, tools, health and well-being. The market place apps are getting redesigned and constantly evolving to cater to business needs, sustain from competitor's, prove their uniqueness etc.

So, what’s the ultimate end result?

  • Tried the Atlassian market place plugins for Jira issues and test cases.
  • Able to commit to Sprint goals by maintaining transparency and visibility (confluence, Trello tools)
  • Able to limit our work timings for few weeks through virtual collaboration tools.

Experimented retrospectives using Google Jam board, sococo and sticky notes. Employee took snap of their sticky notes written on his/her wall and share the picture to me, so I can fit all employee pics into a single frame (Canvas free tool) and store the meeting outcomes in confluence tool.

Snapshot of this prototype explained:

  • The snapshot of the approach I followed, implemented and observed.
  • The words around the walls are the implementations across the organization, suggestions and best practices in the industry.
  • Metrics used in the stages: They are interchangeable, can involve more and can be customized depending on the problem statement, purpose, solution approach.

 

Do comment on this blog post with your Innovative thoughts, suggestions, best practices, approaches and key drivers that championed the work.

1 comment

G subramanyam Community Leader Jun 02, 2021

Hi @Bridget here's my submission for the June month. 

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